THIS week’s object is an eye-catching example of British pop art and an item that has a strange circular connection to Wiltshire and Swindon Museum.

The print, by celebrated pop artist Nick Monro, is part of a significant recent gift to the museum. An anonymous donor donated 50 drawings and paintings in appreciation of the services of Meryl Ainslie MA to the arts. Ainslie, who is a founder of the Rabley Drawing Centre near Marlborough, worked at the Swindon School of Art between 1993 and 2004 and was instrumental in developing the higher education programme in fine drawing, as well as inspiring a generation of young artists.

Monro’s 1971 work Igloos features among the gift. Its simple lines and bold structure typify the confidence that the pop artists who followed in Andy Warhol’s wake demonstrated. Monro himself worked under the radar for much of pop art’s 70s heyday and it was only in retrospective exhibitions 20 years later that his talent was given wider appreciation.

Like Ainslie, he also taught at Swindon School of Art although his stint there was between 1961 and 1968, sandwiched between two spells at Chelsea School of Art, first as a student and later as a teacher.

In 1979 he moved to a studio at Hopgrass Farm in Hungerford, by which time his commissions had moved on from painting to fibreglass statues. Among his creations was a giant statue of King Kong, commissioned by the Peter Stuyvesant Foundation for an exhibition at Birmingham’s Bull Ring.

It met with instant dislike from the good people of Birmingham and was bought by a car firm, which immediately changed its name to the King Kong Car Co. This did not improve the firm’s fortunes and King Kong ended up painted pink and gracing a market in Edinburgh.

Another of Monro’s works was a flock of 40 fibre glass sheep, which was last seen in Germany.

He also created statues of British entertainment icons for various exhibitions, including sand dance legends Wilson, Kepple and Betty, Max Wall and Morecambe and Wise.

The other Monro connection to Swindon and Wiltshire comes through his late step-father, the naturalist and children’s TV icon Johnny Morris.

Monro’s mother Eileen married Johnny Morris and they eventually lived in a converted barn near Hopgrass Farm in Hungerford. To complete the circle, Morris had once worked as an estate manager for one Jimmy Bomford. Bomford, who had made his money on the stock exchange, saw the need for food after the Second World War and decide to farm on an estate in Aldbourne. He knew nothing about farming but met Morris and hired him.

Bomford later gave 21 works of art to the museum, which set the tone for the highly regarded British modern art collection we in Swindon have today.

There is a sad twist in the tale though, as in later life Morris fell out with Monro and his brother. When he died he left his home and his money to fellow Animal Magic presenter Terry Nutkins, cutting his two setpsons and their families out of the will altogether. They tried and failed to challenge it in court.